Finally someone in the Israel Cabinet shows some of what my Italian friends call “Callones.” During today’s cabinet meeting Minister for Strategic Threats Avigdor Lieberman acted more like the minister of internal threats by telling the ruling Kadima party, either Hamas gets destroyed or your party gets destroyed…one or the other. Its nice to see that someone in that government has some guts.
Olmert is a master politician, he has to be to have lasted this long. I doubt whether a politician of his skill could overcome two unsuccessful military campaigns. The stated goal of this effort is to punish Hamas. The terrorist group must be “bitch-slapped” to oblivion for other terrorist groups to understand the lesson being taught to Hamas. Otherwise its not a lesson that will be learned from.
Lieberman: Break up Hamas, or we’ll break up the gov’t By Avi Issacharoff, Amos Harel, and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents, and Agencies Minister for Strategic Threats Avigdor Lieberman, head of the hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu party, warned his fellow coalition partners Sunday that if the government failed to dismantle Hamas, the government itself would be dismantled. Lieberman spoke as new barrages of Qassam rockets struck the Negev town of Sderot and the surrounding area. Israel must launch bold military operations aimed at “dismantling Hamas totally and absolutely” and creating “an entirely new situation,” Lieberman said. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s Knesset majority could survive the departure of Yisrael Beiteinu, but the presence of the right-wing has lent him stability until now. “The current coalition has reached the moment of truth. Either we take apart Hamas, or we take apart the government,” Lieberman told Israel Radio. “This alternative is pure, it’s the only one on the agenda. I empgazise that this is not an ultimatum and I am not settling forth a time limit, but in the end, this is the choice, either you break up Hamas, or you break up the government.” According to Lieberman, “I am speaking of a specific operation, I am speaking of dismantling Hamas totally and absolutely, the creation of an entirely new situation. It is time to stop making declarations and threats. It is time to carry out operations, tough operations, daring, non-routine operations, and I hope that this is what will be.” Kadima minister Ze’ev Boim said earlier Sunday that Israel must strike at Hamas leaders “with all our might,” and warned that even Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh could be on Israel’s list for potential assassination. “We must strike their leaders with all our might,” Boim told Israel Radio. “There’s a list of them from the first of them to the very last.” “Now, with Hamas saying openly that it is the one who is firing the Qassams, we must strike at Hamas. There are people there who are launching them, there are their commanders there in the armed wing, and there is the political echelon, there is a prime minister.” Meanwhile, Olmert on Sunday warned Hamas to cease the Qassam rocket attacks on southern Israel, or face stronger Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip. “If the measured steps we are taking, in the political and military sphere, do not bring about the desired calm, we will be forced to intensify our response,” Olmert told his cabinet in broadcast remarks. Israel killed three suspected Hamas militants in one of six pre-dawn Air Force strikes in Gaza on Sunday, as it built up pressure on the Islamist militant group to stop firing Qassam rockets into the Sderot area, hit by more than 45 Palestinian rockets over the weekend. Palestinians reported that a 16-year-old teen, who was passing through the area, was also killed in the attack. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman confirmed a strike had taken place on a vehicle belonging to Hamas militants and said the size of the explosion confirmed the vehicle was carrying munitions. Palestinians also said the three dead men were most likely members of Hamas. At least 10 Palestinians have been reported killed in IAF strikes since Friday. Boim said that years ago, when he had said that no Hamas leader was immune, he had referred to former Hamas chiefs Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantisi – both assassinated by Israel in 2004. “It turned out then that, in fact, no one was immune, and this had beneficial effects on the ground,” Boim said. The security cabinet was to meet Sunday to discuss military options. Cabinet ministers are believed to oppose a ground offensive at this point, favoring continuing the airstrikes. Residents said that two more air strikes were aimed at metal workshops, one was in the northern part of the coastal territory and the other in Gaza City. Both were destroyed and there were no casualties. The IDF spokesman said that three strikes had taken place on facilities suspected of manufacturing munitions. Two belonged to Hamas and a third workshop belonged to Islamic Jihad. Israel began the wave of air strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza on Wednesday, and senior Israeli officials said they were considering taking tougher measures. Defense Minister Amir Peretz told Israel Radio on Saturday that Israel would go after sensitive Hamas targets in trying to halt the rocket fire from Gaza. IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Saturday that troops would continue operating in Gaza “as long as necessary.” At least four Palestinians were killed in IAF strikes Saturday, and seven were killed Friday.